Daily news roundups

Union ready for Fire, Bethlehem hosts Cincinnati, US Soccer responds to wage discrimination action, more

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union

On Saturday, the Union have the opportunity to do something they have done since 2011: Open the season with three wins out of the first four games. (The last time the Union won three games in a row at any point in league play was in 2014.) The opportunity comes against Chicago Fire, a team they have not defeated in league play since the 1-0 home win on May 18, 2013, some six games (0-2-4).

The game kicks off at 5 pm (TCN, MLS Live, Direct Kick). Previews at PSP, Philadelphia Union (preview, game notes), MLSsoccer.com, Brotherly Game, Chicago Fire (video), SBIMLSGB, and Football News.

Chicago Fire Confidential has this injury update:

  • David Accam has not returned to full training yet and his status is in doubt for the weekend.
  • Sean Johnson injured his wrist earlier in the week and also may not be available for the Union game. The injury is considered to be minor.

Matt Polster talks to The Telegraph about returning to Chicago Fire after being will the US U-23 team for its failed Olympic qualification playoff series against Colombia.

At CBS Philly, Keegan Rosenberry’s talks to Matt Leon about the Union’s season so far and Saturday’s game:

I think for us, it’s just been building off each game. I think for any fan or third party looking on and watching each of these games, it’s been a steady improvement. You look at our Dallas performance, we were tentative, we definitely underperformed. And then you look at Columbus, we got a good result at a tough place to play and we did some things well and we disrupted their play. Then you go to a game at home against New England where it was kind of on our terms and it seemed like we kind of dictated the pace of the game.”

“We’ve got a different challenge here with Chicago. They’re looking for their first win which presents an even tougher test for us, going to their place which can be tough to play at. Hopefully, for us, we can go in and, again, play the game on our terms and dictate the pace of the game. I think if we can do that, we can put our print on the game, I think we’re going to find success.

Andre Blake came in second in the polling for MLSsoccer.com’s Player of the Month with 22.82 percent of the vote. Salt Lake’s Joao Plata took the honors with 38.54 percent of the vote.

Unauthorized Bethlehem Steel FC Blog considers Union goalkeeper Matt Jones, who appears to be behind John McCarthy in the Union goalkeeping depth chart but, thus far, doesn’t seem to be in the picture for Bethlehem Steel.

Bethlehem Steel FC

Bethlehem Steel’s inaugural home opener is on Sunday at 3 pm at Lehigh University’s Goodman Stadium. Facing then will be fellow USL debutants FC Cincinnati, a team that includes former Union players Austin Berry, Antoine Hoppenot, and Jimmy McLaughlin.

What was learned from the season opening road win over FC Montreal? Head coach Brendan Burke said, “I think we can step up the level of pressing just a little bit and our recognition of when to keep the ball instead of trying to get to the end line. I think we were overly aggressive at times in their final third, and could have been a little more disciplined about keeping the ball.”

Burke also said the team has worked to inform the players about the legacy of the team with which they share a name:

I think playing at home for the first time is always a special thing and these guys know the history. We’ve shown them a few videos to help them fully understand the history. We’ve talked to them about it. We’ve talked to them that we’re representing the mentality of the city that they’re going to playing their trade in. They get it. They know we’ll be a gritty, blue-collar group. At a bare minimum.

Previews at Philadelphia Union (print, video), CSN Philly, Bethlehem Press, Cincinnati Enquirer, and Cincinnati Soccer Talk.

At Delco Times, Matthew De George talks to Fabian Herbers and Joshua Yaro about how playing with Bethlehem helps them with the Union.

Bundle up if you’re going to the game. The National Weather Service forecast for Sunday in the Lehigh Valley says, “A chance of snow showers before 8am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 43. Breezy. Chance of precipitation is 30%.” The faint of heart can watch the game on YouTube.

At Philly Voice, Kevin Kinkead has an informative interview with Fred about becoming a player/coach with Bethlehem. The interview includes this humorous passage:

PhillyVoice: Is it weird being 36 years old and sharing the field with a bunch of 19- and 20-year olds?

Fred: Sometimes I don’t wanna think about it (laughs). But yea, sometimes I see these faces and they’re 17 years old, but it’s good, you know? I train with them and like I said, I still can play, because at that age they run more than they think (laughs). So when I have to run with them it helps me too. But I think some of these guys from Africa, they’re not 17, I think they’re older than me. Derrick Jones is one of them. (long pause for laughter). He’s not that age. He must be older.

Local

Harrisburg City Islanders are on the road to face Charlotte Independence on Saturday (7 pm, YouTube).

Brotherly Game rounds up players with local connections in the NASL.

The Penn women’s team has announced its spring schedule.

MLS

The league disciplinary committee has suspended Vancouver Whitecaps forward Masato Kudo one game for simulation/embellishment. The ruling explains, “Kudo went to ground in the box and was awarded a penalty that Pedro Morales subsequently scored. Due to the impact Kudo’s simulation had on the match, the Committee ruled to suspend him for Vancouver’s game against the LA Galaxy on Saturday.”

Additionally, FC Dallas’ Ryan Hollingshead was fined an undisclosed amount for simulation/embellishment, and DC’s Marcelo Sarvas was fined an undisclosed amount “for failing to leave the field in an orderly manner after he received a straight red card.”

At Goal.com, former Union man Zac MacMath gets a shout out ahead of Colorado’s game against Toronto in the wake of the news that Tim Howard will be joining the Rapids this summer.

The Galaxy’s Robbie Keane is out 4-6 weeks after undergoing knee surgery.

MLS launched its annual Don’t Cross the Line anti-discrimination campaign on Thursday. More on this year’s campaign at Fox Soccer.

Finance & Commerce reports Minnesota United owner Bill McGuire “told lawmakers on Thursday that the project could collapse if they don’t approve a property tax exemption on the site.” More at MPR and Minnesota News Network.

Sacramento Bee reports MLS commissioner Don Garber will visit Sacramento later this month for an update on new stadium Sacramento Republic is working to build in the city’s downtown in what is being viewed as a major step in the team being awarded an expansion franchise. More at MLSsoccer.com.

Pro Soccer Talk talks to NASL commissioner Bill Peterson ahead of the start this weekend of the NASL spring season.

A report about the NASL deal to have games broadcast on CBS Sports Network indicates it does not include live streams (NASL Live and ESPN3 cover that) and that game broadcasts there would replace local broadcasts. Additionally, the NASL is paying to have the games carried on the subsidiary network.

US

After the release of an official statement from the federation on Thursday, Sunil Gulati and other US Soccer representatives have strongly disputed in a conference call with reporters the wage discrimination allegations filed by leading members of the USWNT with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Asked if he believes USWNT players deserve to be paid equally, Gulati said, “I don’t want to use the word deserve in any of this. I’d reverse the question: Do you think revenue should matter at all in determination of compensation in a market economy? If we look at the track record of teams, a lot of different things go into the compensation for the players … Part of it is based on revenue, part of it is based on revenues that accrue from international competitions, part of it is based on incentives and the performance of the teams. All of that goes into it.” When it was suggested to Gulati that US Soccer effectively operates as a monopoly on national team players rather than a market economy, Gulati said the purpose of collective bargaining agreements is to compensate for that.

Federation legal counsel Russell Sauer said the current compensation system stems from the 2006 CBA, which the federation believes was extended through the end of this year via a memorandum of understanding that was agreed to in 2013 (which is itself the subject of a separate court case). Yahoo Sports reports Sauer argued that through the CBA the women “prioritized the security of a fixed baseline salary over a riskier but more lucrative all-bonus structure, such as the men’s.”

Sauer said, “It quite frankly seems odd, from a legal perspective, that the players are complaining about a compensation system that they insisted upon, including the very economic terms they’re now complaining about. This is a model of compensation structure that the Players’ Association negotiated specifically for in prior negotiations. The Players’ Association asked for and received a structure of guaranteed salary and benefits, rather than pursue their compensation on a pay-to-play basis like the men. That whole process involves tradeoffs.”

ESPN reports regarding benefits, “Sauer went through a list of benefits women players get that are not available to the men, including severance, health benefits, vision insurance, dental insurance and pregnancy leave, which allows them to receive 50 percent of both their national team and NWSL salaries. If they are injured, they receive 100 percent of their guaranteed salary.”

On the issue of revenue, one argument made in the conference call was that the numbers included in the action do not provide an accurate picture of revenue. A federation spokesperson said, “During the last four years, the men’s revenues have been significantly higher than the women’s national team. The numbers provided in the complaint at times are inaccurate, misleading or both. And looking at a single year doesn’t provide the entire picture. If you look at four or eight years cumulatively, the men’s national team revenues are almost twice that of the women’s national team.”

SI reports, “U.S. women’s player lawyer Jeffrey Kessler had told SI.com that the timing of the women’s action was due to U.S. Soccer communicating in CBA negotiations that the women would not get as much as the men in their new CBA. U.S. Soccer lawyer Russell Sauer denied that claim. ‘I can tell you categorically along with the other U.S. Soccer participants that statement or anything even remotely along those lines was never said,’ argued Sauer, who said he has been at all three meetings in November, February and March.'”

Gulati said TV deals are done collectively and are not broken down by each national team. He did say ratings were much higher for men’s games versus women’s games, explaining, “An average rating [for a men’s game], it’s a multiple — not 10 or 20 or 30 or 50 percent higher, it’s a multiple on the men’s program right now.”

Soccer America looks at the viewership numbers for the English language broadcasts of the US national teams over the past two years and says viewership for the men’s group stage games was 21.2 percent higher than those for the women’s group games in the last World Cups, 87 percent higher for the men’s send off games, and 70 percent higher for men’s friendlies in 2015. “Even when you include the record 25,400,000 viewers who watched the 2015 USA-Japan final on Fox, the U.S. men outdrew the U.S. women by 74 percent for their World Cup games.”

Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Hope Solo talk to ESPN’s Allison Glock about the motivation behind the filing of the action with the EEOC. Asked why they, along with Megan Rapinoe, filed the suit, Sauerbrunn says, “Actually, the whole team agreed on the complaint. The five of us were voted on by the team to negotiate the CBA, so it kind of made sense that we were the five listed on the complaint.”

SI and Soccer America break down the issues behind the players’ suit and what happens next.

In an interview with the New York Times, Tim Howard said of the action, “Any time, no matter the gender or the race, someone feels they are underpaid, it is a problem, and I feel they should fight for their rights, no matter what. Other than that, they have their battle to fight, and they should do that.”

Hillary Clinton and Connecticut senator Richard Blumenthal have come out in support of the USWNT’s pay dispute.

Fox Soccer says the USWNT’s action will have a lasting impact on women’s sports. The Huffington Post argues USWNT players deserve to be better paid than players on the USMNT. The Guardian says the wage gap is “America’s shame.”

While the USWNT pay dispute is dominating US Soccer related news, fallout continues from the US U-23’s failure to qualify for the Olympics. Soccer America has a double blast at Jurgen Klinsmann for the Olympic failure, with Paul Gardner writing the failure is an example of Klinsmann cronyism, and Mike Woitalla writing the failure to qualify proves Klinsmann should not be in charge of the men’s program. At ASN, Brian Sciaretta on why losing out to Colombia is a huge setback for the U-23 program.

Tim Howard in the NYT interview about the recent World Cup qualifiers with Guatemala: “Concacaf qualifying is crazy. What happened these last two games is a microcosm of what U.S. Soccer and World Cup qualification has looked like since 1990. There’s ups, there’s downs. We come off a road trip, we got our butts handed to us, the media is on us … we win our home game and everything is rosy again until September. That’s like normal to us.”

Elsewhere

From Goal.com: “FIFA has claimed it is ‘on the right track’ in the protection of workers’ rights at World Cup stadium projects following a damning report by Amnesty International on the treatment of migrant workers in Qatar.”

From the AP: “Russia’s Sports Minister says a stadium being built in the city of St. Petersburg for the 2018 World Cup has suffered further delays…[and] is now three months behind schedule.”

Check out the latest Footy on the Telly for listings of live soccer on TV, online, and on satellite radio.

24 Comments

  1. “I still can play, because at that age they run more than they think (laughs). ”
    .
    Soft spot for me who thinks our youth most certainly do not think enough on the field as evidenced by the extraordinary running one can witness in almost every MLS game… I actually would have said it’s a bit ironical that humorous… as Robin Williams liked to say.
    .
    Course I’m also the guy who was annoyed that eight & nine year olds were kicking the ball in the air at the training I watched last night and not playing the ball on the carpet so….. back to that thing again about why the street game and futsal is so so so important to our development.
    .
    In other news Don Garber visiting Sacramento to see how the stadium ( which is further going to line the coffers of the Mother Ship ) is coming along… yet still pays professional players 60K a year… and old heads millions and millions a year.
    .
    What’s that about cynicism again.
    .
    However things are supposed to work out for USWNT I’m all for it… and staying far far away form commenting on that one.

    • Dan C (formerly of 103) says:

      Well, now I have to ask…..

      What was the drill? Was there a reason for sending airballs, did the coach let them try to figure out the best solution and then correct them in due time if they couldn’t do it themselves?

      • Wasn’t a drill. Small sided 4v4 game… this is why I was annoyed. In activities of this size the ball needs to stay on the carpet… IMO.

      • Dan C (formerly of 103) says:

        Agreed. did the coach correct it? Kids most likely launching airballs because they weren’t comfortable under pressure/ no one moving to provide outlets. I coach U9, coming back after winter break may as well be like coming back after a year break…. certainly frustrating but part of the process.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      I thought it was better when he said some of the African guys are older. I say that all the time when I look at Ayuk. No way dude is 19. HA!

  2. A poem
    .
    North American
    Soccer League,
    I pray for thee
    Save us from this monopoly.

  3. pragmatist says:

    https://twitter.com/KevinKCBS3/status/715902020687945730
    .
    Accam and Johnson are officially out.
    .
    I smell opportunity…

    • And if you read the article Ed linked to above, you’ll see that it’s not clear whether Matt Polster or Brandon Vincent will play either, due to their recent return from international duty.

      This is a time to grab 3 points on the road if ever there was one.

      • pragmatist says:

        I’ll phrase it differently. This is time to see if this is the same old Union that drop points when they shouldn’t. Or do they take advantage of an opportunity?
        .
        A very interesting litmus test for the team this weekend.

      • Well and its likely Matt Polster will be slowed as well — from his thorough ass kicking on Tuesday at the hands of the Colombians.
        .
        Thems the facts.

    • In fairness, they havent started Johnson all year. Pauno is not high on him in Chicago. And honestly, I cant blame him. I know Chicago was pretty putrid last year, but not all of that was on the defense and coach. Johnson was thoroughly subpar most of the time, with the annoying habit of throwing in a stellar save time to time to throw critics off the scent.

  4. oh my! Zlatan to MLS! http://bit.ly/4kb77v

  5. Fred’s comment that Africans are older than on paper is unfortunately so true.. Saw Derrick play many times for LMSC (after he just came over).
    .
    So much misinformation and BS being mentioned on TV and the radio about the wage inequality, especially by those who do not have all the facts. I have worked myself on fixed salary with lots of benefits and now work only on commission. Many days I wish I was still on fixed salary. Also, getting 100% after getting injured is a huge benefit that is almost unquantifiable. Anyway, the women now have nice leverage in the next collective bargaining sessions. Do not think it will end up in court. Would be sad if it would.

    • I mean yeah, if two different labor unions bargain for contracts and stress different benefits then the basic salaries are almost certainly not going to be equal.
      .
      At the same time, I’m not going to pretend that a gender pay gap does not exist.
      .
      Best course of action might be to merge the two unions and bargain on behalf of all US soccer players regardless of gender.

  6. REALLY IN FOOTBALL UNION OF THE COUNTRY.

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